Social Media Slays: 4 Lessons for Stayin’ Alive Online


I kind of love horror movies, and by kind of, I mean that I've loved them longer than I've been dressing myself.  Recently I was rewatching the Scream series.  For those who haven't seen the Scream series (SPOILERS!), Scream follows Final Girl Sidney Prescott, who is constantly the victim of the Ghost Face Killer (first her boyfriend and his best friend; then in the second film his mother and a psychotic film student go after her; by the the third film, we find out she has an illegitimate brother).

As I started watching Scream 4, I realized this film is ultimately all about our day to day communication, social media, and our culture's obsession with 15 minutes of fame.  From the opening moments, the supposed victims are texting, tweeting, and Facebook updating every moment of their lives.  The killers are filming every murder, with the goal of posting them online.

It may be a horror movie, and yet it has so many poignant moments about our relationship with the internet and social media.

“So you film your high school experience and post it on the web?”

To which a Cinema Club member replies, “Everybody'll be doing it someday, Sid.”

Oof.  Doesn't that kind of feel like the internet? Scream 4 came out in 2011, and blogging keeps growing.  It's a fundamental part of every website now, and it seems like everyone has a blog, whether personal or professional.

And yet, I just celebrated my 30th birthday.  Just days ago, I said to a friend of mine, “Man. I'm glad I put all of those drunken Livejournal posts and make-out pictures under the FRIENDS ONLY lock.”  There's no way in HELL I'd want my high school experience recorded and shared on the internet.

There's a fine line between getting personal on your blog and sharing too much; I try to ask myself, “How would I feel if someone found this in 5 years? How could people use my future husband's photo from the internet?  Or lawd help me, what if someone uses my images for their own pornographic needs?”  Gross.  Basically, if anything like this makes you uncomfortable, keep it offline.

Sensationalism is great for traffic and sales…

That doesn't mean that sensationalism makes you feel great.  As the kids start dying, Sidney's publicist tells her that the press has resulted in Random House offering her a 3-book deal, and she can name her price. Trudie-the-Publicist promises that the murders will lead to a 100% increase in sales… and that many more souls Sidney “will be able to help” (said with a smirk).

It's at this point that Sidney walks away from her agent, her deal, and millions of dollars.  She is staying true to the message of her life, her new book and her role in the films: she's a survivor.  It's never been about sharing her story, acquiring fame or wealth.  It's been about moving on from tragedy to find a way to live her life. 

Similarly, our blogs are components of our lives, but don't forget to step away and remember to LIVE. Sensationalism will wear off, you'll grow weary of it, or it'll turn around and bite you in the ass.  It's not the best way to build yourself.

Our lives are totally connected to the internet at all times…

but they don't have to be.  The high schoolers in Scream 4 are totally connected to each other, a dramatic difference from the first film 15 years prior.  News of the murders make it to the internet before reporters know about it… sound familiar? Every time a real life event happens, it's not unusual for news and opinions to spread over the internet before the press can legitimately report on it.

It's okay NOT to be the first to break a story.  It's okay to sit on a feeling, an event, or a response, for DAYS until you feel comfortable sharing it.  Recently at Texas Style Council, one of the Speakers (I think Emma from A Beautiful Mess) said she wishes she hadn't shared her wedding online.  That finding the photos on Pinterest changed the meaning of this beautiful day.  Not every moment has to be shared online, and you don't have to stay connected 24/7.  Find the joy in stepping away.

Fame doesn't come from imitating others.

For the biggest SPOILER in this post, one of the killers (Jill) is motivated by her cousin, Sidney's, fame.

Jill confesses to Sidney, “I mean, people gotta see this shit. It's not like anyone reads anymore.  We're gonna know fame like you never even dreamed of….I don't need friends. I need fans. Don't you get it? This has never been about killing you. It's about becoming you.”

We see a lot of imitation on the internet–whether it's they way you've designed your site, a series you've launched, the way you dress, or how you write.  Once you find success, a new imitation will pop up daily.  The reason each of these bloggers found success and fame in the first place is because they were true to themselves, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

Fame for the sake of fame isn't worth it…

What was the motive of the killers in Scream 4? They wanted their fifteen minutes of internet and television fame.  It's an incredibly extreme example, but the desperate measures that people go to for attention and notoriety suffocate our daily lives.

At the end, Jill (one of the killers) says, “You had your 15 minutes, now I want mine!  What am I supposed to do? Go to college? Grad school, work? Look around. We all live in public now, we're all on the internet.  How do you think people become famous anymore? You don't have to achieve anything.”

We all work hard and want to be noticed and rewarded for our work.  But give yourself more credit that Jill gives herself; use your site to help you– and others– achieve something. If you find fame and success in blogging, make sure it's because you've contributed something meaningful and worthwhile to others.

So now that I've waxed poetic about horror movies + internet life lessons (and 2.5 months before Halloween, too!), give it back to me– have you seen the film?  Were you (and are you) as struck by their commentary about our online lives as I am?

And if you haven't seen it… watch all four films. This weekend.  You'll love Tatum's 90s fashions, the beautiful men, the clever wit, and that Wes Craven was meta before meta was a thing.

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4 Responses

  1. Miss Daja

    I can relate to this on so many levels. After awhile you just get exhausted with trying to keep up with everyone and their lives. You get exhausted for not being true to yourself. I had to take a 3 week Social Media break for this very reason. I even went to the extent of taking a few months off of blogging because I found myself in the wrong direction and losing focus. In all honesty, I just wanted my life back. So now I plan to come back with my main mission and plan my steps better.

    I would love to check this movie out. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Krystal Orr

    I can absolutely identify with and understand this article! Great job once again Ashe of hitting the nail on the head! I fairly new to the blogosphere and already I have felt a need to step back and breathe. I felt like I was always ‘on’, I even got to the point where I was wearing falsies to the grocery store! To the grocery store for crying out loud. My solution was to stop doing personal style photos for a while and give my readers a bit more of my actual personality. This has helped so much, the relationship between me and my readers is closer. Now I can let my hair down and not always feel like im in a glass bubble.

  3. Barbara

    Beautiful post!
    While I am still trying to find a balance between checking out my social media and working on blog I have gone through some of the moments described in your post Ashe – I have felt the need to share my personal life and stories on the internet, the need to keep some things secret, the need to imitate someone else and the need to be myself. I am glad to say that I have come full circle into myself. My readers, fans and friends know this and are extremely glad about it. I do get asked about stuff I used to do before but because that wasn’t really me, I either ignore the reference or say ‘No, I don’t do that anymore’. I must say it is very hectic keeping up with someone else if your plan is to imitate them to become famous, phew!

    I have watched all 4 Screams but when I did I wasn’t into social media so didn’t quite get that aspect (I love horror movies too and I am of the opinion that it is a perfect waste watching them in the day time too). I really need to see them again after this post.

    Lagos, Nigeria

  4. Stephanie

    I love this! I love how the post is taking something grotesque and comparing it to our blogging on a daily basis (maybe it’s the inner artist in me but I find that interesting). This was extremely helpful on what I should be sharing on the blog and what I should maybe keep in a picture frame on my night stand. It is extremely hard for me as a newish blogger to try to figure out what to share with the internet and what not to share. It’s hard to find a happy medium because you want to share your life and important aspects of it, but you also don’t want your personal affairs on the internet. Thanks again!
    30 Shades of Stephanie